Bounty: The Quicker, Thicker, Turkey Scrubber!

See? This is why I don’t cook.

When I do cook, it usually turns out really great, but this is because I am so BAD at it. I am that person who meticulously measures out EXACTLY one teaspoon of salt, and gets angry when recipes call for such measurements as “salt to taste”.

So my dinners are either extravagant works of art or complete and utter flops.

Thankfully, after a LOT of hard work, I managed to pull a win out of my hat with this turkey situation. Still— UGH. I hope I never see a turkey again as long as I live.

Any other sane person would have taken one look at the recipe and thought, “Hmmm. Wow. Three tablespoons of cayenne pepper seems like a lot for just one little turkey. Perhaps I should use some common sense and re-read the directions.”

Not me!

I happily slathered on enough “Essence” to cook approximately three full-sized moose onto one little innocent, unsuspecting turkey. After re-reading, I realize that the “Essence” recipe yields about 30 servings worth of flavoring—- all of which I slathered on today’s turkey.

I feel like if I pinched my skin really hard right now, “Essence” would squeeze out of it.

Once I realized my mistake, 10 am this morning found me kneeling in front of a stove, scrubbing a half-cooked turkey with some Bounty paper towels. Thank heavens for paper towels! After scrubbing the bird thoroughly several times, and draining all of the juices no less than 3 times, I did manage to save the turkey.

I also seem to have given myself a slight case of food poisoning. The skin of the turkey, heavily laden with 30 doses of seasoning, turned immediately brown.

Brown turkeys are cooked turkeys, right?

Right.

So as I rebasted, and drained, and rebasted, and scrubbed, and sweated my way to a Thanksgiving victory, I continually nibbled on tiny pieces of that stupid bird, trying to see if I had managed to accomplish my goal.

In my nervousness, I kind of forgot that eating uncooked poultry is not a good thing, no matter how “done” of a color you managed to paint it with 30 doses of “Essence”.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go powder my nose. AGAIN.

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Please, No, Not Another Story for My Blog…..

Hold onto your hats, folks.

After bragging to my family about my mad turkey-cooking skillz, I commandeered the turkey-cooking for the family Thanksgiving. After all, I couldn’t trust the turkey to anyone else— it might come out dry.

I decided on a delicious recipe, where you create an Emeril-Essence rub, and then baste the turkey periodically with chicken stock and apple cider. You stuff the lucky bird with onions, orange, celery, bay leaf, and a touch of the powder. Before you put the turkey in the oven you rub 1 teaspoon of the powder all over the turkey.

That is, that’s what you would do.

If you were me, you would misread the directions and rup 2/3 of a cup of the powder all over the turkey, coating it in a gelatinous, powdery muck, marvelling that the recipe would call for so much powder.

Two hours into the cooking I realized my mistake. I’ve tried to do damage control, but I think I just ruined Thanksgiving.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Look at that Great Big Woman!

The DragonMonkey was an average-sized newborn.

He grew into a small baby.

Now that he is walking, he is the world’s tiniest toddler.

It’s absolutely adorable.

The Bean, my husband, is not exactly a tall man, so I guess it makes sense. His totem animal would be a meerkat, except that meerkats coexist in a big group. Maybe the Bean’s totem animal is more like an angry badger.


We constantly joke that the Bean missed the Play-Well-With-Others-and-Share day of kindergarten.

I, on the other hand, always considered my totem animal to be an Appendix Horse. For those not in the horse world, an Appendix is what you get when you cross the stocky, versatile Quarter horse:

with the graceful, athletic Thoroughbred:

It’s kind of like the Cock-a-poo of the horse world. Ideally, the resulting foal will have the height and fluid movement of the Thoroughbred combined with the quiet mind and sturdy muscling of the Quarter Horse.

Or, if you’re not careful how you breed, you end up with a long-legged, big-rumped animal that is athletic and terrified of loud noises.

In other words, you have a Becky!

The main point I’m trying to make here, is that I’m not a petite woman. I’m 5’9 and 165 pounds (for those who are curious, my goal weight is 145 pounds— that’s 10 pounds lighter than the above photo, and 20 pounds lighter than right now. SIGH.)

Even when I’m perfectly fit, I’m not tiny. The only time I wore a size three was at the veeeery beginning of 6th grade when I was 11 years old. By the time Christmas rolled around, it was too small on me, and that was back in the day when kids were still making fun of me for being too skinny. When you breed good, sturdy, Scottish stock with the curvy latina blood, you end up with a long-legged, big-rumped Becky— sound mind, athletic, sturdy, and terrified of the sound the biscuit can makes when it opens up. See? An Appendix horse.

Anyways, that’s all well and good. I like my size, even if I’m not content with my weight at the moment. I like my husband’s size. I like my baby’s size. What I do NOT like, though, is how I look when I’m holding the DragonMonkey.

When you combine me (in the 99th percentile of height) with the DragonMonkey (who is somewhere around 15%), I don’t look loving and maternal when I’m holding him. I look like King Kong and that little blonde chick.

I look like, if I get hungry enough, I just may eat him.

I mean, I always kind of knew this in my mind, but yesterday it was driven home to me while the DragonMonkey and I were toddling around Target. Well, to be honest, the DragonMonkey was toddling around Target, grinning at strangers and making even the grumpiest of employees melt and say, “Awwwww…” I, on the other hand, was hunched over, holding his tiny little hand and grimacing, trying not to complain too loudly as I developed a huge crick in my lower back.

That’s when I heard it.

“Mira la grandota, con el chiquitito!” Roughly translated, it means, “Look at that great big woman with that tiny little baby!”

It was said in a gossipy, “Oh, wow, looooook at thaaaaaat” tone, and I knew immediately they were talking about me. The problem with being what my family affectionately calls “an undercover Mexican” is that nobody realizes that I can speak Spanish and I oftentimes overhear stuff that I just don’t need/want to hear. This was one of those times. Instantly hurt, insulted, and angry, I craned my head around to find the offenders. There they were!

Okay, maybe the three fifteen year olds I spotted were wearing jeans and carrying purses instead of beach balls and bikinis, but that’s pretty much what they looked like. Tiny, curvy, petite, and all of them no more than 5’4″ and maybe 115 pounds, they were the Arabians of the human world.

It would have been a perfect moment to holler out something pithy and biting, and teach them the lesson they so richly deserved. Like:

“Ustedes no son los unicos que hablan espanol.” <— "You're not the only ones who speak spanish. Or "Que poca verguenza tienes!" <—-"Wow, you guys have no shame!" (This sounds better in Spanish.) Or maybe something even a little worse, like: "Y tu mama calata…." <— "And you, with the naked mother." (Again, it sounds better in Spanish.) Instead, I did nothing. I immediately forgot every Spanish word I've ever heard. I glared at their perfectly tight, rounded little backsides as they giggled and trotted briskly away, shiny manes tossing in the wind. I sputtered. I fumed. If this was the horse world, I would have taken my superior size and strength and trotted right after them, kicked them to smithereens, then gathered up my foal and wandered off to the greenest grass available and celebrated by not letting any of them near it. Instead, as a human, I did what every self-respecting woman does when faced with adversity in today's day and age. I called my husband up on the phone and wailed away about it.

“These girls just called me bi-i-i-i-g…..”

Stupid, Stupid Me

Yeaaaah…..

So, I got really lucky the other day.

REALLY LUCKY.

One of my jobs is a personal assistant for a rather busy, Christian businessman— actually, this guy is so busy, I’m his personal assistant’s assistant. He gets more done in one day than I get done in a week, and that’s really not an exaggeration.

One of the projects I’m helping him with is preparing some photo albums for him. He’s using his Mac and a program called Aperture to design printable photo albums that he will give away as Christmas gifts. It’s kind of a fun project, and I really enjoy it. The only downside is that until this project I had never even touched a Mac computer, much less used one, so I’ve had to do quite a bit of learning in order to be proficient.

So, now that you have that backstory, let me introduce the other part of a backstory.

In order to supplement my income, I sell things for people on Craigslist. They drop it off at my house, I take the photos and do the marketing, and deal with the flaky, flaky public. In exchange, I keep a percentage of the sale.

This all sounds like a nice, fun little side job, until you hear the next part:

Right now— right this very second— there is a stripper pole and stage in my front patio.

I’m serious. It’s got a sturdy, black and white checkered stage, and removable little sides so you can put mood-enhancing LED lights and whatnot under it.

You know, I’ve had a lot of random crap in my yard at some point or another, but I have to admit— this is a definite first.

When you combine the fact that this is in my front yard:

with the fact that my mom is staying with us for awhile, well to put it politely there has been some tension.

The stripper pole (and stage!) was delivered while she was gone during the weekend, and I couldn’t figure out how to break it to her. Dear Abby never gave out advice like this! Do you call, and try to drop the bomb during the conversation?

“How was your weekend? I’m out sweeping the front patio– you know how hard it can be to get the areas behind the stripper pole and stage— huh? Oh, yeah. Stripper pole and stage. What? I didn’t tell you about that?”

Do you send a text message? Leave a little note? Seriously, how do you break news like that when you’re living with your very uptight, uber-conservative, status-conscious Mexican mother?

I don’t know how you would do it, but I took the chicken way out— I turned out all the lights and pretended to be asleep when she came home. Yaaay for cowardice!

Anyways, yesterday while I was working on my boss’ photo albums, whenever the computer slowed with a heavy task I tried to work on a very, very convincing sale ad for the

that is living in my front patio.

I had a gmail chat with my husband, The Bean, up as a pop-out. We were laughing and commiserating about the situation, because my mortified mother had just texted me about her humiliation in having to tell the gardener how to trim the bushes around the stripper pole.

The Bean: Did the stripper pole come up in conversation again?

Me: She sent me a text message telling me the story she told the gardener trying to explain why it was there. I realize that she will not be able to rest until it’s gone…. We have a very limited time for that thing to be there without straining the relationship. And I don’t want to throw down the gauntlet over a stripper pole. It’s just too much for her. Some things I can expect, some things I cannot. She flipped out when someone saw her messy studio over the weekend. She now has a stripper pole in her entry way that she has to explain to everyone, including the gardener.

The Bean: What she should have told the gardener about the stripper pole was “you should have been here for the party Friday night..It was OFF THE CHAIN!!!!”

And then the computer froze.

The computer froze with my giant Stripper pole— and stage! Craigslist ad right there in plain view.

It froze with my giant gmail chat box with my husband right there, taking up the majority of the space on the computer screen.

It froze with the words STRIPPER POLE repeated over and over, dancing about on the screen, and screaming for attention.

Horrified, I tried to “Alt + Tab” my way back to the Aperture screen… to no avail. Apparently “Alt+Tab” doesn’t work on Macs like it does on PCs. I texted my computer friend, begging for her help.


You have to help me! The computer is stuck and won’t respond, and there is a giant Stripper Pole for sale ad on the screen! I’m at my job with the Christian boss! What do I do?”

“Ha, ha… Becky, you always have the best stories.”

“No, I’m serious! This will be funny later! But it’s happening right now! What do I do?”

“Control, Alt, Delete?”

“This is a Mac! All fancy, with a wireless mouse!”

“Is the mouse not connected? Try turning it off, and then back on…”

Eureka! Problem solved! I restarted the mouse, fingers twitching anxiously as I waited for it to respond. I actually felt little beads of sweat creeping up at the back of my neck.

Naturally, right then was the moment my nice, Christian boss stepped into the office to check on the work. All I could think was:

As he made his way over to the desk, someone called him from the hallway. He stepped back to the doorway, and began to talk with them briefly.

Thankfully, the computer screen was facing away from the doorway. I began furiously texting The Bean.

Help! The computer’s frozen, with our STRIPPER POLE chat right there, and the boss is coming in. Type something else REALLY fast, before he comes in and notices it! Make it about computers, and resizing photos. PLEASE!

I love my sexy, quick-thinking husband. Almost immediately this popped up in our chat:

The Bean: It is easier if you take the redeye out first and then do the grayscale balance. It will save you a lot of steps in having to revert to old changes and whatnot. Remember that if you save the changes you cannot go back and undo them, so only save once you are sure you want to keep the changes.

The mouse finished reconnecting with the computer, and I clicked out of the Craigslist ad, just— and I mean JUST as my boss finished his conversation and came over to take a peek at the computer screen. The screen now showed a nice, innocent little Aperture program, slowly saving a large file over into PDF format, and a chatbox with a loving, helpful husband full of loving, helpful, innocent suggestions.

“How’s the project going, Becky?”

“Oh, you know… computer’s a bit slow in responding. But it’s going well. The program’s a nice program! Lots of photos to look at, ha-ha! Photos, photos, photos! Just tons of family photos, ha-ha!” I’m sure I sounded manic, and more than a little unhinged. He mumbled something in sympathy, and wandered back to his office, and I slumped down in my chair.

Stupid, Stupid, STUPID.

Oh, well! Lesson learned.

Now, does anyone out there want to buy a stripper pole and stage? Please?

The Petting Zoo of Nightmare Creatures

Back when I was a wrangler at a central California dude ranch, the Head Wrangler decided that what the stables are really needed was a petting zoo. It was a great idea, and the whole staff launched into project with enthusiasm. We created an outdoor/indoor enclosure area, and within a week the Head Wrangler was pulling up into the stables area with a veritable barnyard in the stock trailer.

We had a potbellied pig named Boomerang. Boomerang was so named because even though the shelter had adopted him out in the past, he always ended up returning due to one issue or another (usually because he did NOT like to share his food with other animals).

We had a baby emu we named Edward… who later became an Edwina after she fell in love with me and continually followed me around, thrumming her love song and continually sinking down in a “Welcome home, sailor!” gesture, inviting me to make little bitty emu babies with her. What can I say? I’m just that attractive.

We had some ducks that I eventually set free in the lake because their constant quacking was annoying the horses—- and by annoying the horses I mean annoying me. And by constant I mean CONSTANT. From 5:30 am to about 8pm at night, they never stopped. EVER.

QUACKquackquackquackquackquackqauck. QUACKquackquackquackquackquackquack. QUACKquackquackquackquackquackquack. QUACK!”

They even kept it up when we set them free in the man made lake that was on the property. We offered them shelter, and tried to bring them in at night, but they wouldn’t have it. They sat there in the middle of the lake like a bunch of retarded ducks, quacking non-stop from dawn till dusk. I’m ashamed to say that I was secretly relieved when they slowly disappeared, one by one, during the week that the bald eagle chose to visit us.

We had a guinea pig and a pair of bunny rabbits who lived in separate cages. Whenever the kids were there, they were free to pet/play with the smaller animals (as long as they had adult supervision). The animals all had a pretty good existence, except that after awhile I started to feel sorry for caged animals. When I was a kid, I dragged my poor guinea pigs with me everywhere. These animals, although they had a wonderful cage, plenty of fresh nibblies, and lots of attention… well, they never got a chance to stretch their legs. I felt sorry for them, and decided to remedy the situation. Once—and only ONCE— did I attempt to give the bunny rabbits (Caramel and Latte) some “free time” in the outdoor enclosure.

I put down some carrots and set them down, smiling down benevolently. Look, little rabbits! I have provided you with freedom and yummy things to eat! Frolic and be free!

It turns out that when you set two male bunny rabbits free they don’t care about free space. They also don’t care about carrots. All they really want to do is see who can rape each other the fastest.

Bunny rabbits are kind of creepy.

My sounds of dismay drew Edward(Edwina) out of the indoor area…. and do you want to know what else I learned that day? Emus not only like to eat emu food, they apparently like to eat little bitty rapist rabbits. Edward(Edwina) began flying about the enclosure, hissing angrily, and doing her darndest to stomp the rapist rabbits to death. I’d never really respected his/her leg talons in the past, but let me assure you— emus can be nasty if they want to be. S/he’d chase one of the rabbits down, then raise his/her foot up reeeeally high, and bring it down with a sudden stomping/stabbing motion. The photo below is of a cassowary, but you kind of get the point:

Anyways, every time I’d manage to scare the emu out of her attack mode and try to herd her back inside, the bunnies would immediately start trying to rape each other again— complete with disgusting little bunny grunts and EVERYTHING.

Of course I had invited some of the parents and their young children down to the stables that morning to watch Caramel and Latte get some free time. So as I’m darting about trying to do damage control, I can hear the cries of the alarmed parents and the frightened children in the background. GREAT. It was like having my very own sitcom soundtrack.

“Come bring the kiddies!” I had cried gaily. “It will be fun! They can watch the bunnies frolic freely! They can see them nibble yummy carrots! They can watch them bounce sprightly about the outdoor enclosure like little baby Thumpers!”

“Mommy! The rabbits are fighting! MOOMMY! The EMU IS SCARY! DAAADDDY!!!”

They can watch the deviant rabbits rape each other repeatedly before they get stomped into a quivering bloody mess by a sexually confused emu with gender issues……

Of course the other wranglers weren’t helping me in the least. Oh, no. Those of you who have been around bonafide cowboy-types know exactly the kind of help I was getting. They were all lined up against the fence, hats tipped up against the bright sun, occasionally offering out bland, humorous advice. I think they were actually disappointed when I managed to corral Edward/Edwina back inside and deposit the stupid rabbits back inside their cages, where they spent the rest of their miserable, horny little existence. Stupid rabbits.

And don’t EVEN get me started on the llamas. I really, really, REALLY hate llamas. But I’m going to save that story for another day.

D’oh!

This evening, when I proudly informed The Bean that I had updated my blog not once but twice since he last read it, he dutifully sat down and started to catch up.

I twittered about in the kitchen, trying (and failing) to pretend that I wasn’t watching him out of the corner of my eye, gauging his reactions and trying to guess which part he was reading. He’s a tough crowd— rarely do I get an audible laugh out of him. He generally reads through an entire post without twitching even once, pausing only to say, “That was very funny. Good job,” in an unconvincing monotone before going back to whatever else he was doing. He’s not one to engage in fake flattery, so I know he’s not lying, but still…. Sometimes I’d like to see a little more this:

and a little less of this:

Occasionally, I will get a snort or a small chortle, and I know I’ve struck gold.

That is, until tonight, when he read this bit from my previous post:

“Don’t even get me started on that diaper bag— I think if I searched really hard, I might actually find a diaper in it. I think I can also find a collection of spoons, an old crayon, an old baby shoe, several toys that he never actually plays with, a couple of spare outfits, the catalytic converter to a ’53 Mustang, a crusty bib…”

I’ll spare you all the sordid details of how his laughter bellowed through the house.

Apparently Ford didn’t start making Mustangs until 1964.

And catalytic converters weren’t even used in cars until 1975.

To quote the Bean: “Swing and a MISS!”

The Cult of Mommyhood

Look, I don’t mind if having a baby was the best thing that ever happened to you. Kudos! I’m happy for you. Still, I figured now would be a good time for me to issue the world a warning:

The next glassy-eyed, placid mother that comes up to me and asks me, “Don’t you just looooove being a mom? Isn’t this just the beeeest thing that ever happened to you?” is going to get kicked in the shins.

I really hate that question. Either I lie, which I don’t like to do, or I disagree and sound like a baby-hating psychopath. Any answer except an enthusiastic “Yes! Ohmigosh! Babies are great! I’m so fulfilled! I love my life, and I’m never unhappy, and every time the baby vomits into my hair I giggle with glee!” is taboo.

Don’t get me wrong— I love my son. I LOVE my son. He’s incredibly cute, and I’m not just saying that. I mean, take a look:

That’s a cute baby. They don’t come much cuter than that. And you know what? I don’t just love him, I actually even*like* him. Every day he becomes more of a little person. Hearing him laugh makes my heart light.

But you know what else? Sometimes I feel like I am the only person who squeezed a baby out of my uterus that didn’t drink the kool-aid. Being a mom is hard. The DragonMonkey wasn’t something that The Bean and I were exactly planning for, and I have to be honest: I miss my freedom. I spent the first few months of the DragonMonkey’s life feeling like his real mom was going to show up at any moment. This baby wasn’t actually MINE, was it? I mean, uh, forever mine? As in, he’s not going away? And I can’t even leave him in a kennel while I’m gone out of the house for a few hours? You mean I have to take him with me ALL the time?

It took me YEARS before I caved in and started carrying a purse. Now I can’t leave the house without a boppy, a blanky, a bib, a bumbo, a bottle, a big bag, and of course, the baby. Don’t even get me started on that diaper bag— I think if I searched really hard, I might actually find a diaper in it. I think I can also find a collection of spoons, an old crayon, an old baby shoe, several toys that he never actually plays with, a couple of spare outfits, the catalytic converter to a ’53 Mustang, a crusty bib (the clean ones always run away whenever I need to go out), an empty bottle, a bunch of cheerios dust that are ground down in the bottom of it, and probably the cure to cancer if I dug deep enough.

How can someone so little need so many accessories?

And how is it that, even though I’m carting around a pastel-colored suitcase full of baby crap, I never have anything that I actually need? Other moms always do. Being a mom is hard… being a mom in Southern California, surrounded by eco-green, germ-free, hot young moms really sucks. I’m stuck somewhere between envy and embarrassment when I see how naturally this whole mothering thing comes to other women.

Other Moms:
Awww… did baby fall down and go boom-boom? Awww… Come here. Mommy will take out her pain-relieving Neosporin and SpongeBob Squarepants band-aid out of a neat little compartment in her perfectly arranged diaper bag—the one that matches her beautiful shoes and her size 0 mini skirt! There, all better! Are you hungry? Here, have some baby-sized organic banana and squash tidbits that Mommy grew in her own backyard and cooked up in the oven this morning just for you! Wash it down with some filtered water from your expensive sippy cup that promotes hand-eye coordination and will ensure that you graduate from law school at the top of your class!”

Me (looking up as another mom tugs on my sleeve to point out that the DragonMonkey has fallen down): “Oh. Oh! Ummm. Come here, baby. Umm. There, there. Ummmm. Shhh. There, there. Hmmm. That looks like it’s bleeding. Good thing you’re wearing red today, huh! It’ll blend right in! Oh, are you hungry? Oh, crap. I forgot your food. You’re too young for Starbucks, aren’t you? Hmmm. Ummm….Want some cheerio dust that Mama found at the bottom of the diaper bag? Look, if you suck it off my finger, it’s almost like food!”

In my next life, I’m going to be born with the make-up gene AND the mothering gene. I will mince onto the playground in my perfectly-matched outfit with my styled non-frizzy hair. My well-behaved, well-nourished, highly intelligent children will be the envy of all.

Either that or I’m coming back as a cat. That sounds like fun, too.